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Articles from 2017 In May


Purple tea offers opportunity for Kenyan farmers

Kenya is highly regarded for its coffee. When it comes to tea, however, Kenya—though a quality producer and the fourth largest in the global market—finds itself in the commodities market, still low in its ability to captivate the imagination of the pinkies-out sippers. So when commodity tea prices fall, Kenyan farmers suffer. Martin Kabaki sought to change this. He teamed up with regional farmers to raise Kenyan tea to something special: a standout purple version of the stuff, high in antioxidants, polyphenols and the anthocyanin that lends the unique color. Click above to hear the hows and whys of Kabaki's company, Kenyan Purple Tea, and its efforts to create a market for this tea and elevate the standing of both beverage and farmer. Cheers!

From Thrive to alive: Vega cofounder talks health with a modern take

Brendan Brazier Thrive

Brendan Brazier wrote the book on thriving. Seriously—his book, Thrive: The Vegan Nutritional Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, took the vegan lifestyle from the macrame jungle into the mainstream. He followed that with a magazine he called Thrive and will launch a new magazine, Alive, this year. He was also a founder of Vega and could be considered a pioneer of the modern plant-based movement.

New Hope Network talked to him about that and about "thrive" as the word of the moment and how the meaning has changed for him and for the world at large.

What does "thrive" mean to you in 2017?
Brendan Brazier: It means being able to do what you want, when you want, how you want, basically not having limitations, physical or mental, that hold you back from achieving what it is you’re trying to achieve. So, of course, people who aren’t thriving, I would say, are ones who get tired easily, need to rely on stimulants like caffeine and sugar to stay awake or have to sleep more, who are less productive. When all those things go away, when you get your mental and physical aligned, then you can truly thrive.

How common do you think it is among people to feel like they’re thriving?
Brazier: I think most people would like to do more thriving, and I think some people feel as though sometimes they’re just getting by, just putting out fires and dealing with the immediate things. To me, thrive also has an element of the future, and I know there’s a lot that’s been made of living in the present, but I tend to think to thrive I like to live a little bit in the future. I like to have that optimism for what the future’s going to bring. I think that’s what helps me to thrive. It’s just an optimistic attitude and spending a fair bit of my head-space in the future thinking about what could be if I do certain things now.

Could we consider the lack of thriving to be basically a condition? An ailment?
Brazier: I suppose you could. I think of it as quite holistic and kind of a general state. But there are certain things specific to lack of energy, for example, or being dependent on caffeine or sugar, or needing to sleep more. Of course, most people want to sleep better so they don’t have to sleep as much. That’s a really appealing thing to a lot of people. If you know how to eat properly and you understand hormones and all that and you can lower your cortisol through stress reduction, you can achieve things like that. I think any one of those could be considered specific but, like I say, generally I think thriving is pretty holistic.

Do you think people have an understanding of that balance between the psychological side and the physical side?
Brazier: Some people do but most don’t. A lot of people just aren’t aware of that connection. They aren’t aware that by cleaning up your diet, you can reduce a very large amount of your overall stress, and therefore the symptoms of that stress.

Can supplements help people thrive?
Brazier: Something we found when we first launched Vega, is that Vega is nutrient-dense, whole food, and it’s going to help you reduce cortisol, but it’s not going to do it overnight. A lot of people, especially people new to the natural health industry, they want results right away. They’re from the drug culture, really. Take a drug and the effect is almost immediate. I think it’s kind of a tough thing because supplement manufacturers want to make something that is going to be noticeable right away, but at the same time you don’t want to have people think too short-term. They need to think that a supplement that may treat their symptom is actually a long-term solution. That can be a challenge because sometimes people aren’t going to stick with it for the time required, which could be several months, in some cases. It can be a little bit tricky to navigate at times.

How does the natural products industry get people to see that holistic approach? What should the message be?
Brazier: Just getting the information out that there are certain things you can do that will help treat your symptoms in the short-term, but long-term, here are some meal plans that are going to help by eliminating other types of foods that cause cortisol to go up, which is what I try and do with my book and, obviously, through Vega as well. Of course a lot of other companies are doing similar things now, so it’s good. I think it’s just making sure people realize it’s a lifestyle. As with exercise, it’s not so much about exercising for six weeks or eight weeks or whatever and then taking before and after pictures. It’s more about consistency and lifestyle as opposed to a program. When people talk about their nutrition program or workout program, they’re usually looking at it in a way that’s not sustainable. Find a plan, find a lifestyle that is sustainable and just stick with it.

Let’s say somebody who hasn’t seen your magazine or hasn’t ready your book asks you "What’s my first step?" Is it nutrition? Is it more about attitude adjustment?
Brazier: It can be more complex sometimes than I’d like it to be. I think nutritionally, just be mindful of adding some good foods. Don’t even think about eliminating the ones that aren’t good right away. Just keep it simple. Perception, too, is a very big thing. You can become mentally unfit just by basically depleting your willpower. If you’re constantly doing things you don’t enjoy, things get harder and harder. Replenish that. Do things you like. It sounds strange, but if people are on a new program and they get home from work, especially jobs they don’t like, and they have to go right into an exercise routine program they don’t enjoy, that’s not sustainable. They’ve got to find things that are going to help them even if they have to just recharge their batteries by doing something they really enjoy even if it’s not necessarily the healthiest thing. If it helps them get up the willpower to approach bigger challenges, like maybe making bigger changes in their diet or maybe changing their career, whatever it is, certain things can really help.

Have you seen a change in awareness?
Brazier: The 10th anniversary edition of Thrive is now out and there’s been a big shift since the original edition. I think people are just better informed, generally. They think more holistically. They feel as though they have more control than they did in the past, which is obviously really positive. They feel that if they make changes, they will see the results and that’s very positive. They don’t feel as much like victims of the modern world. A lot of people are far more optimistic now, and that’s great.

How long is it going to take before people really understand that equation between the price of food and the value of food?
Brazier: I think the folks who shop at Whole Foods are the right place to start, for sure. Getting to people who don’t know as much about food is going to take a while. Twelve years ago, not a lot of people knew about hemp protein, pea protein, rice protein. The demand was for soy and whey. It will take a while, but I think it’s a worthy thing to start on.

[email protected]: Evolving GMO discussion | FDA finds high compliance with 'gluten free' labeling

Thinkstock gluten free label

Meatless, tasty and genetically modified; a healthy debate

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and food scientists are exploring ways to use yeast-based fermentation and other techniques that involve gene editing to develop alternatives to resource-intensive meat and dairy products. Will this spark an evolution in the GMOs discussion within the healthy food community? "Genetic engineering is one of the most important tools we can use in terms of environmental conservation,” says Mike Selden, cofounder and CEO of Finless Foods. Read more at San Francisco Chronicle...

 

FDA sampling finds high level of compliance with gluten-free standards

In a sampling of more than 250 products labeled "gluten free," the agency found that 99.5 percent of them met criteria for gluten-free labeling, meaning they had less than 20 ppm of gluten. Read more at FDA...

 

Brooklyn food stamp startup raises $4M from Andreessen Horowitz, Kevin Durant

An app that allows SNAP participants to check and manage their benefits by phone has some big-name backers. Read more at Technical.ly Brooklyn...

 

Nutrition being emphasized throughout Minnesota Twins system

With the help of a nutritionist, the organization is cutting down on ice cream socials and pizza parties with its minor league players and putting more emphasis on healthy foods to fuel performance. Read more at Twin Cities Pioneer Press...

 

Albertsons can't find a grocery chain to take over

It has reportedly looked at at Sprouts Farmers Market and Whole Foods Market as potential merger targets, but nothing has panned out. Read more at New York Post...

Cold-brew coffee maker High Brew gets backing from BIGR in $17M round

High Brew Coffee high brew coffee

High Brew Coffee, an Austin-based natural beverage company, announces the closing of $17 million of new growth capital led by BIGR Ventures, a growth equity fund providing value-added, strategic partnership and capital to promising early-stage natural and organic products. Already the No. 1-selling cold-brew in convenience stores, the additional capital will continue to accelerate the brand’s accessibility and penetrating popularity.

Since its 2014 inception, High Brew quickly made its mark on the ready-to-drink market, selling over 1 million cases in 2016. Given that the ready-to-drink coffee market is up 14.6 percent in dollar sales and among the top 10 fastest-growing grocery chain categories last year, High Brew has enjoyed steady momentum in the space. With over 2 million cases expected to be sold in 2017, the new capital paves the path for further expansion through investment in production infrastructure and increasing its capacity to quickly deliver quality products to an eager market.

"Witnessing the growth of High Brew over the past three years has been an amazing ride,” says founder and CEO David Smith. "With the closing of our Series B funding, we will be able to reach even more markets to elevate their coffee experience. As you can imagine, we are excited to write the next chapter in the High Brew story."

“Investing in High Brew is a real privilege for us at BIGR,” said Duane Primozich, cofounder and managing partner at BIGR. "David’s track record of turning a beverage company into a household name, mixed with the company’s dedication to natural ingredients and quality products means we have no doubt that High Brew will be the top ready-to-drink coffee in all channels in the not so distant future."

Bill Weiland, another cofounder and managing partner at BIGR, supports Primozich’s sentiment. "With a lineup of fantastic products that cater to a savvy customer, along with an experienced management team, High Brew is perfectly positioned to conquer an ever-growing industry," he says.

From its humble beginnings, High Brew now has more than 80 employees and is distributed nationally in key retailers such as Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts and more.

Source: High Brew Coffee

Natural Products Expo

First things first: Patents matter to your brand strategy

Benjamin Stern

You know you have a great idea, but how do you prevent others from copying it?

Benjamin Stern, creator of planet-friendly shampoo company Nohbo, tells us steps he took to secure the intellectual property of his innovative product after a major CPG company took notice.

 Watch Stern’s keynote at Natural Products Business School at Natural Products Expo West 2017.

As HPP finds new applications, a trade group forms

Avure Technologies high-pressure pasteurization machinery

Since the first high-pressure pasteurized products hit the U.S. market in the 1990s, use of the technique to create high-quality, fresh-tasting packaged products has skyrocketed. It makes sense, given the focus that packaged food developers are putting on clean label and food safety—the process uses ultra-high pressure purified water to help packaged food stay fresh longer and to kill bacteria like Listeria and E. coli without use of heat.

But it’s not just the application of HPP technology into new categories like beverages, soups and baby foods that’s expanded—the technology itself has matured. In recent years, the machines have nearly doubled in capacity and throughput, and automation is starting to take hold, said Jeff Williams, CEO at Avure Technologies, which makes commercial HPP systems. And packaging materials continue to advance with new films, bottles, closures and more being developed especially for HPP.

To help the industry continue growing, Avure and eight other companies came together to form the Cold Pressure Council, which held its first meeting in April at the ProFood Tech tradeshow. We talked to Williams about how the new council will focus on developing industry best practices, establishing guidelines for a label program and working to promote and grow HPP overall.

Can you explain how Cold Pressure Council came about?

Jeff Williams: There were actually several different groups of HPP manufactures, users and third-party processors working independently on their own agendas for several years now. The reality was we were mostly after the same objectives. Another driver was the desire by many existing and new brands to have a logo program that would identify their products as ‘cold pressured’ and verified—as in they are following the proper guidelines for safety, validation and the HPP process. In 2016, a small subset of these groups got together and committed both resources and seed money to form the council. By Q1 of 2017, several additional HPP users made similar commitments and the Cold Pressure Council began to take shape with its founding members.

What are big-picture plans for the council, and how is it set up?

JW: We launched the council with its nine founding members (Avure Technologies, Hiperbaric, American Pasteurization Company, Universal Pasteurization, Suja, Campbell’s, Evolution Fresh, West Liberty Foods and Good Foods Group). Essentially those founding members make up the executive board at this time. Next month we’ll be finalizing the bylaws of the council. There will be various membership levels open to people, depending upon the nature of their job or their company. Like a lot of other industry organizations, we’ll be establishing task force committees to focus on special projects, etc. Membership will be open to everybody involved in the industry, or even supporters of the industry, like suppliers or makers of packaging material.

Why the focus on using the term 'cold pressure' versus 'HPP'?

JW: While most of us in the industry understand what HPP means, it can be a hard thing to translate to the consumer. Cold pressure is easier to explain and visualize. With part of the council’s mission being consumer awareness, the founders felt this was the proper name.

Earlier you mentioned a logo program. Can you talk about the vision for that, and how it will be administered?

JW: The next meeting of the council is in late June, so we’re looking to finalize that. There is a logo—it’s going to be called Cold Pressure Verified. Basically, there will be a set of guidelines and criteria established for the use of that, and companies who are members of the Cold Pressure Council will have the right to use that logo once they’ve gone through an audit or an inspection to make sure they’re following those criteria. The administration of the logo and the establishment of guidelines will all be managed by the council.

How will development of best practices help the industry?

JW: If you go back 10 or 15 years when HPP was relatively new, there was a finite amount of knowledge on the food science side as well as the packaging materials side—on the right methods, processes and materials that would work for high-pressure. There are many examples of users or brands who could spend a year or more doing trial and error on different ingredients or recipes or materials to finally get to where their product was finally being successfully HPP'd. Over time, that body of knowledge has improved, and working with the right people can accelerate speed-to-market for a given brand on a certain SKU. So one of the objectives of the council is to establish guidelines and baselines and help share some of this knowledge with all HPP users so they don’t have to spend as much time and money learning lessons of the past.

Are there any emerging categories where you think we may see more HPP products in the near future?

JW: Emerging categories include soups, baby food, pet foods, new beverage alternatives, RTE meals and ingredients into other products that are not HPP’d. A key category you typically would not see is foodservice. Restaurants are pushing toward fresh, natural and safe foods just like consumers at home, so more foods and ingredients used in restaurants are moving to HPP.

There are many new applications coming that are currently in the lab which no one is thinking of right now. You’ll start to see those in stores next year. Finally, there are a number of products currently on the market that do not use HPP but in the coming year or two you will see shift to HPP for a number of benefits.

How to veg out for plant-powered customers

Thinkstock man shopping vegetables

Move over meat—vegetables are increasingly taking over the spotlight. "Plant-powered" is now en vogue. As consumers look to eat healthier and cleaner while reducing their impact on the planet, items like pea protein powder, plant-based burgers, nut-based cheese, jackfruit shredded "meat" and soy chorizo are popping up left and right on restaurant menus and in stores. Home and restaurant chefs alike are getting more creative with using vegetables in a "meaty" way, proving that a delicious, protein-packed meal doesn’t have to have meat as its star.

The mainstreaming of veg-centric

This movement is a modern twist on vegetarianism supported by a growing desire to reduce meat consumption. According to a study by data and insights firm GlobalData, more than  70 percent of global consumers say they’re moderating their meat intake or avoiding it altogether. But it’s not just about elimination. Consumer perceptions around protein and the role of vegetables in meals are dramatically shifting with no signs of slowing down. Thanks to a new focus on flavor, innovative and exotic vegetable dishes are emerging to dial up craveability. As a result, more and more consumers are embracing this new way of eating. 

The benefits extend further into health and sustainability. Today’s plant-based proteins can be just as nutritious as their meat-based counterparts—with a lot less fat. They’re also better for the environment—using significantly less water and energy to produce. Further, progressive companies are innovating to deliver "complete protein" solutions to address dietary concerns about plant-based eating. It’s no surprise that veg-centric is now part of the modern lifestyle.

What retailers can do

As consumers continue to seek out the benefits of a more "plant-powered" lifestyle, reimagined applications of vegetables will continue to expand in retail. To begin capitalizing on the trend today, retailers and brands should evaluate their options to expand veg-centric offerings across the store. This could include, for example:

  • Developing new articulations of "pre-cut" vegetables like cauliflower steaks and rainbow beet noodles.
  • Using vegetables as the key ingredient or flavor profile in center-store products. Consider  legume-based crackers, seaweed chips, sprouted nuts and other plant-based snacks.
  • Providing pea, brown rice, chia, hemp and/or flax protein alternatives to popular whey-based protein bars, beverages and powders.
  • Offering plant-based alternatives in fresh and frozen ready-to-eat meals and meal components.Think cauliflower crust pizza, grain-based bowls, fire-roasted vegetable burger patties or spicy bean empanadas.

Get creative and evaluate opportunities to innovate with lesser-known varieties, colorful heirlooms and hybrids, such as watercress, sunchokes, daikon radishes, cassava, broccoflower and kohlrabi.

In addition to offering innovative plant-based products, retailers and brands should explore new services, such as chop-while-you-shop vegetable "butchers," vegetable rotisseries and veg-centric cooking classes. A good example of one retailer innovating in this area is The Big Carrot in Toronto, Canada, which plays host to meatless cooking classes and has a vegetarian deli that features certified organic vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.

Retailers and brands should also consider partnerships for promotional opportunities like Meatless Mondays, Plant Protein Month in April and Vegetarian Awareness Month in October. Partnering with an existing program such as one of these can be an especially cost-effective way for retailers and brands to get involved, allowing them to take advantage of existing promotional materials, branding assets and media coverage the sponsoring organizations have already invested in.

By focusing on these three key areas of innovation—products, services and programs— retailers and brands can support consumers’ growing interest in living a healthier lifestyle and provide their shoppers with a wealth of opportunities to explore throughout the store—all while promoting a cleaner, eco-friendly way of eating.

Nicole Peranick is the director of culinary thought leadership at Daymon, which provides global retail strategies and services for companies and their private label brands.

IdeaXchange

Reduce stress with mindfulness

New Hope Network IdeaXchange

If you’re feeling stressed—or worse, burned out—you know how it can affect your job performance and your home life. But relieving that stress is easier than you think. And research shows it.

Research at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center supports the growing body of good research demonstrating that mindfulness training decreases the response to stress. Members of the medical school’s intensive care unit participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based training which included meditation, breathing exercises, yoga and gentle stretching.

If you get stressed working in natural products, whole foods or nutraceutical industry, imagine the stress of working in an ICU where everything you do has a life or death consequence. If ICU members get the results they did, what kind of result might you get?

Study participants completed a questionnaire about their stress level before and after the eight-week training. Researchers also collected saliva samples to study the biomarkers of stress reactivity.

The findings were amazing. At the end of the study, the participants reported no change in how much stress they had in their job. After all, they were still dealing with life-and-death situations and decisions. However, the measures of their stress reactivity decreased 40 percent, while a comparison control group showed no change at all.

The 40 percent decrease in the biomarkers of stress reactivity reflects a change in the sympathetic nervous system, which controls excitement (the flight-or-flight survival response). Another astonishing part of this finding is that the participants weren’t aware of this change, but their bodies certainly were!

Here's a beginning breathing exercise to help enhance mindfulness. This breath meditation exercise will take you to the next level:

Beginner breath relaxation: using all of your senses to enhance awareness

  • Choose a place to be alone. A quiet place with few distractions allows you to better focus.
  • Sit comfortably. Sit so you can pay full attention to only your breathing. If possible, sit in a chair or a position that you aren’t likely to fall asleep in. Sitting without back support will also keep you from dozing off.
  • Start with your hand on your abdomen. Breathe in, keeping your chest and abdomen as relaxed as possible, until you see and/or feel your hand on your abdomen gently rise as your breath fills the lower part of your lungs.
  • Use your mouth and nose. As you breathe, inhale through your nose and exhale out your mouth. Practice this until it becomes comfortable.
  • Become aware of sound. Listen to your breath. What does it sound like as you breathe into your nose and the air goes deep into your lungs? Does it sound the same or different when you exhale out your mouth? Continue paying attention to the sound until you can hear the nuances distinctly.
  • Notice feelings. Observe how the air feels as it comes in your nose and how it feels as you exhale out your mouth. Note the temperature of the air and the sensation in your nose, throat and airways. Notice the feeling of your abdomen and chest expanding. Then notice what your breath feels like, all the nuances
  • When your mind wanders from paying attention to only your breath, which it will, gently bring your awareness back to the above details.

Developing mindfulness by paying attention to your breath gives you much greater control of your stress reactivity, just like the ICU study participants. Everyone can gain much greater control over their stress reactivity and, therefore, their emotions. How will you do it?

TC North, PhD, is co-author of the best selling book, Fearless Leaders, a high-performance executive coach and leadership speaker. He eats clean, is a dedicated supplement user, was a keynote co-presenter at the 2016 NBJ Summit and is committed to helping the industry create consumer trust.

In Session

Why the voice of business is vital in the fight to advance climate policy

Climate Day Policy

"I had the speaker of the house ... say that the business voice was critical in getting the [legislation] to the finish line ... we need more of these voices." 

—Kristen James, Ceres 

Part 1: The role of corporate advocacy 

Highlights:

  • What is the role of Ceres and the Niskanen Center in affecting policy? 
  • Why getting the economic voice to statehouses could make or break legislative decisions.

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Part 2: Take action 

Highlights:

  • The importance of a bipartisan approach when it comes to climate change issues. 
  • Action steps the industry can take to have a voice. 

This session—A Climate Day Policy Discussion—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2017. 

In Session

Sourcing sustainable ingredients has more positive impact on climate change than you think

Getty Images expo west climate day regenerative agriculture

"Organic agriculture, because of the soil microbiology and a lot of life in the soil, it is a lot more resilient than conventional agriculture."

—Dave Alexander, Global Organics

Part 1: Entering the net positive zone

Highlights:

  • Discover which ancient grains can revive depleted soil. 

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Part 2: Barriers to scaling 

Highlights:

  • What do these regenerative practices need to scale?
  • Is consumer demand the most important driver for change? 

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Part 3: Hope for the future

Highlights:

  • Why big food companies are trying to find climate solutions. 
  • What's the story you hope to tell to the future? 

This session—The Climate Opportunity of Agriculture Roundtable—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2017.